Hues Corporation: Analog Jetpack is up in arms over ’90s alt-rock.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Rob Getzschman, a former D.C. resident now living in Los Angeles, has toiled in relative obscurity for years, releasing mostly anti-folk solo albums that wear left-field politics (Songs for the Anti-De-Counterrevolution), sense of irony (Heirs of Pretension), and high self-regard (Hypocrisy in the Genius Room) on their jacket sleeves. His new trio, Analog Jetpack, is different, playing a brand of pop-punk he’s dubbed “retro-futurist.” Joining Getzschman are drummer Robby Sahm and bassist Dan Ryan, both members of D.C.’s Le Loup. (Getzschman and Sahm met at an area Apple Store, where the former was training the latter to be an, er, Genius.) The group recently toured in support of D.C. voting rights and is attempting to sell MTV on a reality series about the subject. But its debut album, And How They Flew, is a largely apolitical series of easygoing (if verbose) good-time tunes that bend over backward not to take themselves too seriously. Getzschman sings, plays guitar, and wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, and his easy wordplay and gift for gab is by and large delightful. He describes the adventures of all-too-human robots on “Robot Garden”: “The quiet hum of precision, prosthetic poetry/The deft, mechanical rhythm, the subtle touch of narcissism.” That said, almost everything walks a fine line between clever and transparently ironic, and it’s sometimes hard to know when he’s being serious: “I got 18 lanes of superhighway coursing into my heart, from downtown to the boondocks of my soul,” he sings on “Tales of Woe.” Produced by Jerome Maffeo, drummer for Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, And How They Flew bounces between ’80s punk and ’90s alt-pop; Getzschman has traded in his acoustic guitar for an electric, and fuzzy, rambling jams sit alongside tight, precise singalongs. The band is more successful with fun, accessible tracks like “Savoir Sonic” than with hard-driving, more obtuse ones like “Punish the Rental.” But even at its poppiest the band isn’t exactly mainstream—on “ICBM,” the group sounds more like They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies than anything now on the radio. On the album’s opener, “We Are the Freaks,” Getzschman addresses his intended target market: “We are the freaks/A loose union of disillusion/Cold distinguished by the company we keep.” That seems a little off—they’re the geeks, of course, disinclined to do anything more radical than fashion fun hooks and embrace their inner nerds.